“I am studying how to be in school with you. I time my breathing to your heart to find the ocean. My heart will race to meet your laughter: you are sky. As below, so above.”
Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Undrowned, p.55
For our Winter 2022 programming, the Community Reads team is continuing its dive into Undrowned by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, a collection of meditations inspired by marine mammals. During Winter we are expanding our focus from individual to community wellbeing, building on our Fall quarter theme of seeking ways to survive in a troubled, unjust world. With this quarter’s selection, we move beyond mindfulness and inner work to explore ideas of collaboration, support, and community care. Our reading selections are the two meditations (chapters) collaborate and be vulnerable. In these meditations, Gumbs takes inspiration from schools of marine mammals that uplift, support, and protect one another, encouraging us to find and nurture these same possibilities in our own communities on land. These chapters encourage us to seek out and strengthen our communities, to explore the questions of who we lean on and how we are being in the world with one another, and to reach out to one another with love and presence and care. Through community, we seek to move beyond surviving in a troubled world to making that world kinder and more just.
Using these meditations, along with prompts inspired by the writing, we invite you to join us in reflective, creative responses to our reading in a contribution to a community art piece dedicated to learning to breathe in the troubled waters that surround us. Stop by the Library Information Desk to get a free copy of the book. While supplies last!
Our Winter 2022 programming is meant to support reflection, process, and well-being through activities guided by the reading. Instead of gathering in person, we hope to build community through sharing creations born of a common reading experience. Our online gallery website provides access to the readings, as well as a series of optional prompts which will encourage thoughts about community care, support, and how we all contribute to the wellbeing of one another and to the world. We encourage you to respond to the prompts and readings in any form you would like, and submit your creations to us digitally through that site. The platform allows us to form a digital "gallery" of art, writing, and other creations inspired by this work. We also hope you are inspired by Fall Quarter's postings submitted by your fellow campus community members.
Please feel free to explore this curated list of related resources from the CR Team
If the kinds of meditation and reflection exercises in Undrowned appealed to you, you'll be interested in Dr. Kristen Neff's meditations for self-compassion.
Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals by Alexis Pauline Gumbs. E-book available in the UW Libraries catalog. UW NetID required for access (for Cascadia community members who do not have a NetID, please visit the CC Computing Services NetID website to get started).
Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals by Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a series of meditations inspired by marine mammals using information from scientific guidebooks, Indigenous history, and a poet's perspective. Alexis Pauline Gumbs connects the behaviors and bodies of whales, dolphins, seals, and other marine mammals to lessons we can learn to live in and struggle against an unjust world. The book encourages us to recognize that we are in relationship with these mammals, as well as with one another - to recognize the ways that disconnect and injustice have hurt so many different parts of our world. It provides lessons and encouragement to struggle against that injustice, but also to hold ourselves, one another, and our world close. The meditations collaborate and be vulnerable, this quarter's readings, focus on how to be in mindful community with one another, how to support one another and let ourselves be supported as well.
"Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a Queer Black Troublemaker and Black Feminist Love Evangelist and an aspirational cousin to all sentient beings. Her work in this lifetime is to facilitate infinite, unstoppable ancestral love in practice... Alexis’s co-edited volume Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines (PM Press, 2016) has shifted the conversation on mothering, parenting and queer transformation. Alexis has transformed the scope of intellectual, creative and oracular writing with her triptych of experimental works published by Duke University Press (Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity in 2016, M Archive: After the End of the World in 2018 and Dub: Finding Ceremony, 2020.)." Alexis has worked in many different movements, projects, and journals, and her work is always "grounded in a community building ethic."
Gumbs, A. "Sista Docta Alexis Pauline Gumbs." Alexispauline.com.
Share Your Creation(s) with the Campus
Use our online gallery website to view the readings, prompts, and program instructions. Then respond to the prompts through creative expression (like painting, drawing, writing, sculpture, collage, photography, digital art, audio, video, the list goes on). You can then "Share" your creation by uploading it to the site (accepted file types will be listed). It will be posted to our online gallery with the rest of the creations by our campus community members to create a collective art piece dedicated to learning how to take a breath in the turbulent waters we find ourselves in. We appreciate your participation in community building around Wellbeing and Community Care. UW and Cascadia College students, faculty, and staff are all encouraged to dive in and participate. If you have questions, please contact any one of our Community Reads Team members. We’ll see you in our collective community art!
Twitter response from Alexis Pauline Gumbs after we tweeted that our library program was using her book and creating community art.
Check out this brief article from UW Medicine - it's a good reminder how we can all laugh more and reap the benefits.
Comic: Self Care can mean Community Care
This playful comic thoughtfully gets at the grief and sense of loss experienced by so many during the pandemic and how to lift yourself up by turning to care for your community and others and getting involved with causes you care about. It depicts how turning outside yourself can be one way to heal.